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Stop Right There!: 6 Telltale Signs of Worn Down Brake Pads

You’re yet to change your brake pads. Your stops are feeling a little rougher than they once did. So, you’re wondering: is it time to make a change? 

It just might be. But to be sure, you have to look for specific signs. Curious as to what these signs are? 

Then keep on reading. Here are 6 telltale signs of worn down brake pads. 

1. Your Brakes Are Making Squeaking Sounds

Perhaps the most obvious sign that your brake pads are in need of a change is that your vehicle is making squeaking noises every time you apply its brakes. The more the brake pads wear, the louder these noises will become. 

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Why do worn down brake pads squeak? Because they possess built-in indicators that are specifically designed to alert (through squeaking) drivers to the fact that they are, in fact, deteriorated. 

Note, however, that squeaking isn’t necessarily indicative of brake pad deterioration. It could also just mean that your brake pads are loose or that their shims have deteriorated. Note, new brake pads can also squeak until they’ve been broken in. 

2. Your Brakes are Making Grinding Sounds 

As far as brake noises go, squeaking noises are the least of your worries. What you really need to worry about is grinding noises. If your brakes are making a grinding noise, their brake pads have worn down to the point that they’re almost non-existent. 

Not only is it exceedingly dangerous to drive on brake pads like this, but it’s also highly detrimental to the health of the vehicle. As such, if you’ve let your vehicle get to this point, you need to get it into the shop immediately. 

Unfortunately, there’s also a chance that your vehicle will require repair. Depending on the circumstances, this repair could end up being fairly costly. So, instead of letting it get to this point, just look out for the other signs on this list, and make a change in a timely manner. 

In truth, brake pad replacement should be part of your routine maintenance plan. That’s not to say that you should replace your brake pads every time you get your car inspected but that you should expect to make a change every 5 years or so. 

3. Your Brakes Have Too Much Give

You press your foot down on the brake pedal and something just feels . . . off. It’s almost like you’re stepping down on a pile of marshmallows. In short, the brake has too much give. 

Rest assured, this is a problem. In many (but not all) cases, it indicates an advanced deterioration of the brake pads. Other potential problems include leaking of brake fluid and a malfunctioning brake master cylinder. 

Regardless of what the problem might be, if you’re experiencing this issue, you need to have it inspected by a professional mechanic. He or she will find the source of the issue and take measures to repair it. 

4. Your Car Takes Longer to Slow Down

Another sign that your brake pads might be worn is that it’s taking longer to slow down than it used to. If it takes 5 seconds to slow down as opposed to the 3 seconds that it used to, it’s highly likely that your brake pads are the culprit. The more your brake pads deteriorate, the longer it will take for you to stop in the future. 

Now, the brake pads aren’t the only thing that can cause this problem. A lack of brake fluid, for instance, can contribute to it as well. But if it’s been a while since you’ve changed your pads, they should be the most suspected culprit. 

Regardless, get your brakes checked. Allowing this problem to grow worse can make your vehicle increasingly more dangerous. In the most severe circumstance, you won’t be able to stop in time, leading to a serious accident. 

5. Your Vehicle Vibrates While Stopping

Does your vehicle rumble violently every time you go to apply your brakes? Maybe it just shakes toward the end of your stop? In both cases, deteriorated brake pads are common culprits. 

See, the entire point of brake pads is to reduce friction within the brakes. As such, if the pads have worn down, substantial friction will arise, leading to a level of vibration that you’re yet to experience. 

This is a no-brainer: if your car is vibrating in any way, shape, or form, you need to have it inspected by a professional mechanic. There is something wrong with it, and regardless of what it is, it needs to be repaired soon. 

6. Your Brake Light Is On

Sometimes, it’s just staring you right in the face. If your brake light is on, there is undoubtedly something wrong with your brakes. While the problem could be anything, there’s a decent chance that your brake pads are to blame. 

Brake pads wear down after around 50,000 miles of use. So, if it’s been 5 to 7 years since you’ve made a change, you should expect that they’re the culprit. 

Other reasons that your brake light might be on are that you’re out of brake fluid or that your parking brake is engaged or that your ABS system has malfunctioned.

In any case, you’re going to want to have your vehicle inspected by a professional. He or she will assess the problem and make repairs as needed. 

Don’t Drive on Worn Down Brake Pads!

Driving on worn down brake pads is a dangerous affair. So, if your brake pads are displaying any of the signs discussed above, you’re advised to make a change as soon as possible. Doing so will keep your car safe, and keep you in one piece. 

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